Kilchoman Trilogy Pairing Quandary

Imagine you are a celebrated curator of special gourmet experiences.

Picture your normal metier as a sommelier is to pair food with wine.

Then someone comes to you with a challenge…

Craft a unique evening pairing dishes with cask strength peated whiskies you have never tried before.

And will not have an opportunity to sample until the evening itself.

Nikhil Agarwal of All Things Nice rose to the challenge, armed with tasting notes… he planned a remarkable six course meal…

However, a true professional, on sampling the whiskies, he suggested reversing the PX with sherry or simply playing around with a sip of each to determine the best pairing. As we discovered, some of the assumptions made based on the tasting notes needed to be adjusted when faced with the reality of our experience with the different expressions.

Kilchoman Bourbon cask

Kilchoman Bourbon cask

Kilchoman Bourbon bottle tasting notes:

  • Colour – Golden hay
  • Nose – Soft fruits, citrus notes with sweet smoky aroma
  • Palate – Vanilla and caramel evident, with a soft full character and ripe fruit notes
  • Finish – Long, clean and sweet with peat smoke and soft citrus notes at the end
Planned to pair with:

Kilchoman pani puri

Bombay’s Street Pani Puri
Crispy unleavened whole wheat pockets filled with mint and coriander spiced chickpea, topped with sweet tamarind sauce

KIlchoman vada pau

Mini Vada Pao
Stuffed potato fritter, garlic seasoning, dry coconut and East Indian bottle masala served within a partially charred Indian pao
What did we find?
  • The pani puri was served with the warm chickpea sabra a surprise inside its crunchy pocket. It was hot and spicy with a sweet tangy tamarind. With the bourbon it ‘popped’ into a crazy tasty combination that left you craving more! Which we shameless requested, to then contrast trying a delicious morsel with each whisky. What we found is the bourbon brought out the spice more, the sherry the sweet side and the PX was juuuust right!
  • And the vada pau? The dry coconut and home made bottle masala made this completely distinctive, standing out as much more than just the savoury snack so loved by Mumbaikars. While all sampled it first with the bourbon, it was when we crossed over to the PX that we discovered a spontaneous combustion of flavours in an absolutely fabulous pairing!
Kilchoman PX

Kilchoman PX

Kilchoman PX bottle tasting notes:

  • Colour – Golden amber
  • Nose – Strong vanilla with citrus fruits, caramelised brown sugar and sultanas
  • Palate – Sweet toffee up front with a hint of marmalade, dryness and a long peaty finish
  • Finish – The finish is long and clean with rich smoke and dried fruit
Planned to pair with:
Kilchoman main course
Mutton Curry or Baingan Bharta and Bhaja, Mixed Dal and Bhindi Fry  
Slow cooked mutton chops in gravy or smoked aubergine served on an aubergine fritter, spiced lentils and super delicious crispy okra, served with Indian bread ‘naan’
Kilchoman Biryani
Matka Biryani and Raita
Mushroom biryani cooked with whole spices served with cold yoghurt salad
What did we find?
  • I can’t speak for the carnivores, but the baingan bharta and bhajan was was a complete treat! To then have bhindi (bitter gourd) prepared my favourite way and a rich comforting home style mixed lentil? And hot buttered naan… Let’s just say my taste buds were doing a happy dance long before whisky was introduced….
  • What I found was different elements paired best with different whiskies. For the mixed dal? Definitely the sherry. For the bhindi? The PX. And the baingan, even the bourbon worked however it was back to the PX for most.
  • The delight with the next course was the contrast between the hot biryani and the cold raita. Again we tried different combinations with the whisky. For some, it went best with the bourbon, others the sherry. Interestingly none would chose to pair this dish with the PX.
Kilchoman Sherry

Kilchoman Sherry

Kilchoman Sherry bottle tasting notes:
  • Colour – Dark burnished copper
  • Nose – Deep sherry, smoke and leather notes
  • Palate – Rich, luxurious sherry flavours. Viscous almost syrupy, lots of cooked fruits and citrus peel
  • Finish – Excellent, for a young whisky this has all the characteristics of great age
Planned to pair with:
 Kilchoman Regiano
Say Cheese
36 month aged Parmigiana Reggiani dressed with organic honey from the forests of Orissa
 Kilchoman Chocolate Ganache
Dessert
60% dark chocolate & coffee ganache

What did we find?

  • In both cases, zero doubt on the whisky pairing choice – the PX. The salty sweet combination of the honey drizzled parmigiana paired beautifully with it. As it did with the sinful chocolate too!

Clearly the PX was the most versatile and the whisky that worked best paired with various dishes. What we found when we sampled it before the dinner was a whisky that was more accessible and easier to simply enjoy than the bourbon or sherry. While each of the trilogy is a unique and worthy whisky,

We’ve had the pleasure of sampling several Kilchomans….

From time to time, you can also find other whisky related updates and activities on:

Kilchoman Trilogy – Pedro Ximenez Single Cask 58.4%

Next up in our Kilchoman trilogy was a cask strength whisky matured exclusively in a Pedro Ximenez cask. Unlike the depth of red sherry, this white Spanish grape is dried under the sun to create a thick, dark liquid with raisins and molasses which then is fortified and aged using a solera process.

For whiskies, using either a PX or Oloroso sherry butt produces a distinctive ‘Christmasy’ sweetness with subtle differences. Some suggest a PX cask tends to imbue a whisky more strongly with raisins, gaining  an almost syrupy quality. Whereas Oloroso tends to be rich, spicier plum pudding sweetness. Read on to see what we found with this Kilchoman PX before comparing it with the Oloroso Sherry cask.

Kilchoman PX

Kilchoman Pedro Ximenez Single Cask Trilogy 58.4% (LMDW) 
Single Cask #374 (19.7.2010/31.8.2015), Bottle No 141/261
  • Colour – Much darker than the 1st, clear indication of entering sherry territory
  • Nose – One immediate comment was “It’s like that red hair oil!” (Navratan kesh tel), salty sweet, smoked sweet bacon, stewed fruits, coconut? Cinnamon sweet without the extra spicy zing we sometimes find, lots of sea salt, then caramel popcorn and finally seaweed
  • Palate – Less complex and much more accessible than the 1st whisky. Peat is mild… the sense that you need to ‘pull it out’ rather than being ‘hello! I’m here!’ However better body and much better balanced than the 1st whisky. Think aged balsamic, much more oil and substance, almost chewy or syrupy
  • Finish – Sits there with spice, caramel toffee and an inner curl of peat
  • Water – Doesn’t require it. Some found it killed it.
  • Speculation – Sense of it being more matured than the 1st, sherry elements without being overpowering
  • Mood / setting – This one you could welcome in a bar, not so demanding of careful attention. A lot easier to get acquainted and simply enjoy. One tasters clear favourite!
  • Comments – “Sweet and yummy with some spice!” “A balance of sweet and spice – perfect!”
Here’s what the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say (translated from French) about this Kilchoman:

The nose opens in a particularly heady whirlwind in which peat and sherry match each other note for note in intensity. A spectacular change of olfactory scene overflowing with fruity and floral aromas. An attack on the palate in which peat takes its leave for a few moments before making a triumphant return. The end of the palate is characterised by the sumptuous influence of the sherry. Peat and smoke join forces in a grand finale that emphasizes the great purity of this distillate. Just a few highlights in experiencing this Kilchoman aged in Pedro Ximenez casks.

Profile: the peat gives way to a note of agave here, grapefruit there, and even mustard seed.

Also in  our Kilchoman Trilogy evening:

We’ve had the pleasure of sampling a few other Kilchoman’s in the past too…

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Kilchoman Trilogy – Sherry, PX and Bourbon

Patience is a virtue… and I’ve been rather impatient!

Back in December 2015 I picked this Kilchoman Trilogy up for another member of our Whisky tasting group… And I have been waiting, waiting, waiting ever since to sample!!

Kilchoman Trilogy

It was made teasingly even more excruciating when one of the trilogy (Sherry) made an appearance at last month’s fabulous peat and smoke pairing experience.

All three bottles are a La Maison du Whisky world exclusive and were picked up from their Singapore store.

As usual, we tasted blind. As I was the ‘purveyor’ of these cask strength lovelies from Singapore, I knew overall what I was ‘in’ for, however only our host knew which expression we tasted.

Naturally our host didn’t do something so simple as merely share the whiskies for our sampling pleasure…. Nope! He planned a marvellous 6 course meal at the home of a Mumbai culinary celebrity and sommelier!

What whiskies made up this Kilchoman Trilogy?

Plus a post with drool worthy descriptions of our delectable pairing delights!

We’ve had the pleasure of sampling a few other Kilchomans….

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: